Career Tips

Welcome to the Career Tips page!  This page is full of articles to help you brush up on grammar, hone your professional development skills or sharpen your business etiquette. You may record 5 renewal points for each article read in Section 2 of your renewal form.

i.e. vs. e.g.

Be honest now: do you know the difference between i.e. and e.g.? A lot of people think the two are virtually the same, but if they were, we'd only need one of them. So let's break it down, once and for all.

Writers use i.e. to restate the subject at hand: A good Samaritan (i.e., my neighbor Blake Smith) drove my cat to the vet. In that sentence, i.e. tells the reader exactly who the "good Samaritan" was. One should use i.e. to identify, amplify, clarify, specify, or any combination thereof. Its purpose is to ensure that the reader knows beyond a doubt what or whom the writer is talking about.

The initialism i.e. is from the Latin id est, which means "that is." In American English the i and the e are each followed by a period, and i.e. should be followed by a comma. Many authorities, including the redoubtable Chicago Manual of Style, discourage the use of i.e. in formal writing, advising that is instead. If for any reason a writer deems it necessary to use i.e., it should appear in parentheses: Winston Churchill spoke often of his "black dog" (i.e., his gloomy periods).

Writers use e.g. to give specific examples of the subject at hand. It is short for exempli gratia, a Latin phrase meaning "for example." The e and the g are each followed by a period, and e.g., like i.e., should be followed by a comma. In formal writing it is advisable to write for example or for instance instead of e.g. But if a writer insists on it, e.g. and the example(s) that follow it should be placed in parentheses: High-fiber foods (e.g., lentils and broccoli) are good for you.

Sometimes the right choice requires careful thought, as in this case: Certain members of my family (i.e., Mom and Uncle Jake) are vegetarians. In that sentence, the i.e. tells us that Mom and Uncle Jake are the only family members who don't eat meat. But what if we replace i.e. with e.g.: Certain members of my family (e.g., Mom and Uncle Jake) are vegetarians. Now the sentence means that there are other vegetarians in the family besides Mom and Uncle Jake.

That is no small difference, and it highlights the dissimilarity of i.e. and e.g. Confusing one for the other can result in misunderstandings at best and nonsense at worst. So remember to use i.e. when further identifying a subject, and use e.g. when giving specific examples of a subject. A handy memory aid:
e = "example," i = "identify."

View Complaints as Opportunities

FACT: Every complaint is an opportunity to exceed customer expectations.

* When you can't say yes, never say no.
* Use the complaint as an opportunity to exceed expectations
* Make eye contact. Be empathetic. Show concern.
* Listen and ask questions to find out the cause of the complaint.
* Take ownership. Tell the customer what you intend to do and then do it.
* Stay with the problem until you have resolved it.
* If someone else can help them, make the introduction and explain the complaint. Don't make the customer tell or re-live it all over again.

When to Capitalize People's Titles

When should you capitalize someone's title?
This is a common question, here are some guidelines:

Rule: Capitalize a person's title when it follows the name on the address or signature line.
Examples: Sincerely, Margaret Haines, Chairperson

Margaret Haines, Chairperson
1234 South Wallace St.
Portland, OR 97232

Rule: Capitalize the titles of high-ranking government officials when used with or before their names.
Do not capitalize the civil title if it is used instead of the name.


The president will address Congress.

All senators are expected to attend.

The governors, lieutenant governors, and attorneys general called for a special task force.

Governor Connelly, Lieutenant Governor Martinez, and Senators James and Hennessy will attend the meeting.

Rule: Capitalize a title when used as a direct address even when the person is not named.


Will you be holding a press conference, Madame President?

Please give us your opinion of this latest development, Senator.

We need your response quickly, Mr. President.

We need your response quickly, President Obama.

Will you help me with my homework, Dad?

Tips provided by:

How Good Is Your Time Management? Discover Tools That Can Help You

How often do you find yourself running out of time? Weekly, daily, hourly? For many, it seems that there's just never enough time in the day to get everything done.

When you know how to manage your time you gain control. Rather than busily working here, there, and everywhere (and not getting much done anywhere), effective time management helps you to choose what to work on and when. This is essential if you're to achieve anything of any real worth.

We've put together an interactive Time Management Quiz to help you identify the aspects of time management that you need most help with. The results will point you to the specific tools you need to use to gain control of your time, and start working efficiently. Read more...

Attend To The Customer

FACT: The customer makes your job possible. You have a job because of the customer.
Attend to the customer. They are your number one priority!
• The customer always comes first.
• Meet their needs.
• Answer their questions or refer them to someone who can.
• Watch for approaching customers. Focus on them as they approach.
• If you're busy, acknowledge them and explain you'll be right with them.
• Smile and give them your full attention.
• Engage them, maintain eye contact. Make them feel special.
• Eliminate side conversations. Focus on their needs, not yours.
• Be genuine. Make them feel like you've invited them into your living room.
• Happy customers mean less stress & more fun on the job, for you.
• Realize their importance-without them, you wouldn't have a job.


Improve Your Customer Service Skills

FACT: Everyone can improve upon their customer service skills.
Even if you think you provide exceptional customer service now, there's always room to keep building your skills...
• Be aware of how you are serving the customer.
• Work to grow your skills.
• Watch others and learn from them.
• Do the right things right!
• Work with your team to polish their skills also. Support and build the team.
• Never say "That's not my job" or leave the customer hanging.
• Take responsibility. Serve the customer as if you owned the business!

Tips provided by: Tourism Ambassador InstituteTM

Sleek Writing: Put Your Sentences on a Diet

We tend to speak plainly and succinctly but for some reason, when we write, we stuff our sentences with extra verbiage, turning streamlined ideas into confusing, out-of-shape messes.
Here is a good example of a sentence that needs a workout: The network that this computer is able to connect to contains information that is privileged and confidential. (Thanks to Lynne W. for this real-life example.) No one speaks this way. We couldn't come up with such a mouthful of empty words if we tried! The fastest way to shape up your writing is to think simple by placing subjects and verbs close to each other: network contains and computer connects.
This will help you notice and remove extra words like is able to, that this computer, and that is privileged.
Now you will find it easier to rewrite the sentence: This computer connects to a network containing privileged and confidential information. Sleek!

For more tips on effective writing, click here.
Tip provided by:

Managing Email Effectively: Strategies for Taming Your Inbox

It's Monday morning. As Linda sits down at her desk she experiences that familiar sinking sensation in her stomach... She's not dreading the day head of her - she's dreading her email inbox!

Linda's in charge of a large team, and she receives at least 50 emails every day. Reading and responding to all of this mail takes a long time, and most of her work takes back seat to this daily chore. As a result, she's notoriously behind on projects, and she has started coming in on weekends, just to catch up.

When used appropriately, email is an incredibly useful communication tool. But, like Linda, many of us feel overwhelmed by the amount of mail that we receive and need to respond to.

However, there are ways to manage your email so that you're more productive. In this article, we'll explore strategies for doing this, so that you can get on with the real work at hand.


Tip provided by


Introductions - "HOW"

Introductions can be confusing. Who should you introduce first and what exactly should you say when introducing someone. My "HOW" system seems to work well in remembering the protocol of introductions. "HOW" stands for Higher, Older, Woman.

The lower ranking person is introduced to the higher-ranking person.
"Ms. President, I would like to introduce Mr. Vice President." (Higher-ranking person's name first)

The younger person is introduced to the older person.
"Mr. Lott, I would like for you to meet my grandson, Shaeffer."
(Older person's name first)

The man is introduced to a woman.
"Mrs. Albert, I would like for you to meet Mr. Ross."
(Woman's name first)

Of course there are always exceptions but this is always a good starting point. Just remember that generally rank is considered first in introductions.

Exception: A client should be introduced first even if the President of the company is of a higher rank or senior in age. It just shows respect to that client in hopes of future business.

If you can't remember a person's name and then another person joins you, the easiest way to handle it is to say, "Have you met Sutton Gary?" Then hope that your nameless friend will come back and introduce himself by saying his name. If they don't then Sutton can say, "I am sorry but I didn't catch your name."

If you are in a group situation and a person that you know comes up to the group, it is your responsibility to introduce them to everyone. But if you cannot remember a few names, then the best method is to introduce the new person and then ask everyone to go around and introduce themselves to the new person. It works well and then you know all the names.

Tip provided by: Be on Your Best Business Behavior, 3rd Ed.
by Colleen Rickenbacher, CMP, CSEP, CPC, CTA


Business Card Exchange

It is amazing how a business card can make a difference, but this small card is
your first impression. It may also be your only lasting connection with a
prospective client.

Here are the top 10 business card tips to help boost your career:

1. Keep your business card up-to-date. Never present a card that you crossed out your phone number or e-mail address.

2. A business card is not a novel. State only the necessary information and look professional.

3. Never sit on your cards. Do not place them in your wallet and then sit on them. When you pull them out from behind, they will
be slightly bent and very warm.

4. Present the card with your name facing the person. Stand, present with two hands (preferably) and even a slight bow. Try
it and you will look very professional.

5. Never leave home without your cards. Always have enough to get you through any business trip or trade show. How
embarrassing to say you have none left.

6. During trade shows or conventions, always keep your business cards separated. Have your own cards either in your name badge
holder or in a card holder. Place the cards you collect in another area. Avoid shuffling the cards and handing a person a card that is either written on or is not yours.

7. Avoid tossing them across a table during a meal function. Either pass them around the table (to your right) or stand up
and deliver the card. Remember to present with your name facing the recipient.

8. Read a person's card. This will help you remember their name and also provide further chit-chat.

9. Avoid writing on a person's card. Carry a small notepad.

10.  Always follow-up.

Tip provided by: Be on Your Best Business Behavior, 3rd Ed.
by Colleen Rickenbacher, CMP, CSEP, CPC, CTA


Take Pride In Your Work

FACT: The surest way to NOT deliver exceptional customer service is to choose not to.

Accountability for your customer service starts and ends with you...


  • Don't let others convince you it's not "cool" to provide exceptional customer service.
  • Believe in yourself. Be self-confident.
  • Always deliver quality.
  • Never stop learning and growing.
  • Take pride in who you are and the job that you do.
  • Never forget how important you are to our region's tourism!


Go The Extra Mile

FACT: Every visitor appreciates receiving something extra.

Exceeding customer expectations involves going the extra mile -

  • Go beyond what's expected of you.
  • Give them something "extra" at every opportunity.
  • Use the tools and resources available to you.
  • Help them with what they're interested in seeing or doing.
  • Work with your colleagues around the region to create a unique visitor experience.
  • Become an advocate for your region.


Is Attending a Business Event ‘A Piece of Cake' or ‘Pure Torture'?

Receptions, association luncheons and other networking events are occasions to meet new
people and make valuable contacts.  For some people, entering a room full
of strangers is easy, but for others it is pure torture.  Your attitude
plays a major role when you attend a reception or any business function. 
You can enter a room feeling uncomfortable and awkward or you can tell
yourself, I'm here to meet as many people as I can and hope to find some future
business.  Here are a few hints to get the most out of these events:

  • Enter the room with your head held high and tell yourself you can do it.
  • Look for two or three people together and approach them.
  • Start with a good, solid handshake.
  • Look each person straight in the eyes as you introduce yourself.
  • Listen carefully to their names. Repeat their names and then try to use them again
    during your conversation.
  • Turn your body toward the person you are meeting. Do not be distracted or look all
    around the room for other people to meet. Be attentive and listen to what the
    person is saying.
  • Exchange business cards. Always have plenty of them and have them ready to hand out.
  • Eventually, excuse yourself and move on to other people.

Tip provided by: Be on Your Best Business Behavior, 3rd Ed.
by Colleen Rickenbacher, CMP, CSEP, CPC, CTA

Active Listening - Hear What People Are Really Saying

Listening is one of the most important skills you can have. How well you listen has a major impact
on your job effectiveness, and on the quality of your relationships with others.

We listen to obtain information.

We listen to understand.

We listen for enjoyment.

We listen to learn.

Given all this listening we do, you would think we'd be good at it! In fact, we're not.
Depending on the study being quoted, we remember a dismal 25-50% of what we
hear. That means that when you talk to your boss, colleagues, customers or
spouse for 10 minutes, they only really hear 2½-5 minutes of the conversation.

Turn it around and it reveals that when you are receiving directions or being presented with
information, you aren't hearing the whole message either. You hope the
important parts are captured in your 25- 50%, but what if they're not?

Clearly, listening is a skill that we can all benefit from improving. 

Tip provided by:

Leave a positive, lasting impression

FACT: The customer will remember you and the experience if you exceed their expectations.

After the all-important first impression you make on a customer, leaving
a positive, lasting, final impression is just as important in exceeding
customer expectations. 

Personalize your last message to your customer/visitor with eye contact, a
smile and body language that tells him/her that you are in charge of your
business of delivering outstanding customer service.  And, that you
appreciate that they came to you instead of someone else.

What you say and do at the end of the visitor encounter leaves a lasting


  • Thank them for their business. And mean it!

  • Encourage them to allow you to serve them again.

  • Leave the visitor with something close to these words...

         "Thanks for coming to our great city. We hope you'll return and
         tell others what a great place we have here."


Mastering Communication Technology 

Computerized office environments, telecommuting and all
the electronic innovations of the past two decades have created a new set of
situations to challenge professional behavior.  As handy as some
electronic tools can be, they also create irritation and interruptions. 


  • E-mail is still a business communication. Watch grammar, spelling and abbreviations.
    People will judge your e-mail just as critically as all other business
  • Use the subject line. Your subject line needs to grab the reader instantly so they
    will open and respond.
  • All lowercasing or all caps is difficult to read. Using all capital letters is
    considered the equivalent of shouting. All lowercase is not whispering, but it
    is annoying.
  • Don't use e-mail when a handwritten note is more appropriate.
  • Don't let email substitute for discussing important issues in person
  • Make sure you have a "signature line" at the end of your e-mail message.
    Make it easy for people to contact you instantly.
  • Be discreet about sending jokes or other questionable comments. You never know who
    may receive or pass on something you thought would remain private.
  • Read all e-mails before responding. Go to the most recent ones first and you may
    discover earlier messages have been amended or updated.


  • Watch all emotional signs. Happy faces and other characters do not belong on a
    business communication.

Tip provided by: Be on Your Best Business Behavior, 3rd Ed.
by Colleen Rickenbacher, CMP, CSEP, CPC, CTA


Behaving Professionally in the Workplace

Your behavior affects how seriously you are taken by your supervisor and can affect
your progress within your department or organization. Whether you've been in
the workplace for many years or just recently began your career, review these
points and resolve to correct and make the best of your professional workplace.

Personal Matters

  • Start work at the designated time. This does not mean after a 15-minute breakfast in the break
    room or at your desk. Eat breakfast at home or come in a few minutes early to
    have your meal in the break room.
  • As much as possible, avoid initiating or receiving personal phone calls or e-mail on company time.
    If you receive a personal call, give it three to five minutes.
  • If your company provides a cell phone to you don't abuse it. Just remember it was intended to
    be used for business purposes.
  • Avoid creating or repeating office gossip, whether it concerns business or personal matters.
  • Always show respect and professionalism for co-workers. Teamwork is what makes the workplace
    environment strong and morale increase.
  • Respect the space of co-workers:

    * Avoid reading a co-worker's computer screen. You don't know what they are
    working on and it really isn't your business.

    *Be quiet. Don't be screaming two doors down to see what another co-worker
    might want to do for lunch or after work. Your CEO may be walking down the hall
    or on the phone with a customer.

    *If you overhear your co-workers during a meeting or on the phone, don't become
    a part of their conversation by answering some of their questions or offering
    your own opinions.

Tip provided by: Be on Your Best Business Behavior, 3rd Ed.
by Colleen Rickenbacher, CMP, CSEP, CPC, CTA

Thank You Notes

Thank you notes are becoming a part of the past and shame on us.  The handwritten note is still and should be a very critical part of both our social and business interactions.  Technology has made it too easy to just jot down a quick thank you via an email.  In some cases this is acceptable, but in most cases it is not.

No, you should not send email thank you notes for any other form of "quick" thank you that you might consider for wedding gifts, high school or college graduation gifts.  That is very lazy and disrespectful.

Thank you notes do not take long and are not painful.  Follow the "3-3-3" system:

  • Keep your cards in an easy location, so they can be reached quickly. Have an ample supply.
  • The first "3" is for three minutes. It should take only three minutes to write your card. That includes getting the card, the mailing address and writing the card.
  • The second "3" is for three lines. You need only three lines in a thank you note. Always mention the gift, how you might use it and an appropriate closing.
  • The last "3" is for three days. Try really hard to send out your thank you notes within three days after you receive the gift.
Tip provided by: Be on Your Best Business Behavior, 3rd Ed.
by Colleen Rickenbacher, CMP, CSEP, CPC, CTA

Great grammar is part of great CTA service!

Grammatical errors are easy to make, so easy, that some of us don't even notice them.   But some of your customers will.   Here is a reminder on a very common mistake. 

Me or I?

Which one of these sentences is correct?

1.  Me and Sam went to the beach.

2.  Sam and I went to the beach.

Number 2 is correct, and there is an easy way to determine when to use me and when to use I.  You just take the other person out of the this: 

1.  Me went to the beach.    (That doesn't sound right, does it?)

2.  I went to the beach.      (That's it!)

It's courtesy that determines who comes first in the sentence - it's always the other person...never me.

Everything Communicates

FACT: Whether you're speaking or not, you're communicating something to the customer.

Ninety percent of communication is nonverbal! Think of what is communicated to customers when they see long lines, sloppy dress, excessive small talk or a dirty work area.

"Everything communicates" when it comes to the customer:

  • Attitude - Make sure it's positive and helpful.
  • Appearance - Maintain a professional, confident, caring presence. It shows that you care about yourself and others.
  • Cleanliness - Strive for a clean body, clean clothes, and a clean work area.
  • Friendliness - Let them know you're glad they're here!
  • Watch your body language. Make sure it's positive.
  • Set the Stage -- Before you start work, think of the above and say to yourself... "It's show time!"

Tourism Ambassador Institute®

How a Handshake Could Ruin Your First Impression

Handshakes take less than a second but can set the tone and establish a first impression of that person. Is it clammy, wimpy or just bad? In a business setting you should always start and end your conversations with a nice firm, web-to-web handshake. Look the person in the eyes, say their name and give their hand a nice firm, two-shake handshake. Yes, two shakes will do it. Three is okay, but don't keep shaking as you are talking to them. Let go. You can also avoid back pats or giving them a double shake by putting your left hand on top of their hand. Hugs are common even in business settings, but just make sure it is the right time and place to embrace.

The normal distance for a handshake is 2 ½ feet apart. Honor their space and don't crowd. You will notice that some people from other countries and cultures may stand off a little more or may even invade your space. Again, honor that and I promise the conversation will be over quickly.

Keep your right hand always empty of food or drink and be prepared to greet people.

Handshakes create an impression of you. It shows your confidence and professionalism. Make a statement with your handshakes.

Colleen A. Rickenbacher, CTA, CMP, CSEP, CPC, CTA
Etiquette and Protocol Speaker/Trainer/Author

Great manners are part of great CTA service!

To show your professionalism to your customers, always make eye contact when you talk to them, and always use good manners, by saying "please", "thank you", "you're welcome", and "excuse me".


When someone tells you "thank you", the correct response is "you're welcome" or "it's my pleasure".  Don't use "no problem", "you bet", "whatever", "sure thing", "any time" or "that's OK".   Those responses make the act of thanking seem unimportant.  And we always want our visitors to feel very important, so they will come back.


Great service comes with great manners.